Often there’s a reductive tendency by the media to make racial issues only about African Americans and white people. This black/white dichotomy becomes the focus of the mainstream media’s conversation about race. As a result, many non-Black groups of color are left out of the equation. This creates varying levels of invisibility amongst Central and South Americans, Asians, Arabs, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. All of our stories, experiences, and communities get removed from a conversation that we will still be impacted by.
Obviously this is problematic for the simple fact that each of these groups are also in an unequal power dynamic with the system of white supremacy. Each group has historically faced institutionalized racism, negative cultural stereotyping, and racial violence. To completely ignore this truth erases how pervasive and brutal white supremacy has been for the last couple of centuries. We can’t know the whole neighborhood if we only visit two houses on the block.
Now this doesn’t mean focus any less on the plight of African Americans under the heel of white supremacy. I’m in full support of spreading awareness about how racism has (and continues to) impact the Black community. I find learning about the Black experience to be fundamental in understanding just how cruel this system has been. I also acknowledge the racial hierarchy with Black people at the bottom and white people at the top. What I’m advocating for is expanding the conversation about race and racism to include the groups that often become relegated afterthoughts located to varying degrees in the middle. By doing so, we will have a better contextual understanding of the entire racial situation in this country.
I believe in order to move this racial discourse forward, we must be prepared to grapple with the nuances of race; not everything is black and white (pun intended). If we’re all going to legitimately have our skin in the game, and genuinely seek to make racial progress (however we choose to define that) all of the actors playing a role must be included. Yes, that will slow things down; yes, that will make sorting the details more tedious; and yes, that further complicates an issues already complex enough. However, it’s the most inclusive thing to do.